Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Rail

Portugal Plans $4.7 Billion Lisbon-Porto High-Speed Rail Line

2 months ago

Portugal is getting in on the high-speed rail bandwagon. The country’s prime minister, António Costa, unveiled Wednesday plans for a new $4.7 billion (4.9 billion) passenger rail line that, when it opens in 2030, will cut travel train times between Lisbon and Porto by an hour-and-a-half to one hour and 19 minutes.

The planned line will connect Lisbon’s Oriente station to Porto’s Campanha station a little over 185 miles to the north. It will include four intermediate stops at Leiria, Coimbra, Aveiro and Gaia. In addition, Costa said the new line will eventually extend from Porto to the Spanish city of Vigo, about another 100 miles to the north, where it will connect with Spain’s AVE high-speed rail network. The extension will include stops at Porto’s airport, Braga, and Valença.

Lisbon Oriente Train
A train at Lisbon’s Oriente station. (Chester025/Flickr)

In comments posted on Twitter, Costa highlighted the importance of connecting Portugal’s two largest city as well as the country’s international competitiveness for the investment. The high-speed rail line will also help move the country to “the forefront of the fight against climate change, [and] changing the mobility paradigm.”

Trains have taken on a renewed importance across Europe amid the push to cut carbon emissions, and the spike in energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. France, for example, banned domestic flights on routes where a train makes the journey in two-and-a-half-hours or less. And, in Germany, a so-called “9 euro ticket” local and regional rail pass this summer exceeded expectations — and proved doubters wrong — in boosting rail travel and helping ease the pain of high energy prices.

Tourism

The UK and Portugal Hope New Visa Fixes Can Fix Persistent Labor Shortages

3 months ago

Staffing problems in the hospitality industry continue to linger. Now, two countries are aiming to amend visa regulations to counter them.

A petition has been launched in the UK that seeks to allow European Union nationals to come to the UK to work in hospitality for up to two years.

“The government should create a special visa for people from the EU countries to come to the UK to work in the hospitality industry for a period of up to 2 years, similar to the Seasonal Work visa for horticulture workers. Some countries have visas like this to support the hospitality sector,” the petition says.

“There is a massive shortage of qualified labour in the UK to fill vacancies that were in many cases previously filled by EU staff. For years people from the EU countries were the backbone of the hospitality industry and many were affected by COVID and subsequently by Brexit’s final terms. Many restaurants are struggling to find people with experience and willingness to work.”

As of Sept. 2 it had secured more than 16,400 signatures. Once a petition reaches 10,000 the UK government is obliged to respond. At 100,000 signatures, the topic is considered for debate in Parliament.

The UK left the European Union on 31 Jan. 2020, with free movement between the UK and the European Union ending on 1 Jan. 2021, when a new points-based immigration process was set up that is far more restrictive than before Brexit.

Brexit is being blamed for many things, but staff shortages seem to be the biggest bugbear.

“Supplier labor will continue to be an issue,” Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said in May this year. “The UK will continue to be very challenged. The labor market is very inflexible post Brexit. You can’t bring in young Europeans.”

Portugal, meanwhile, is to speed up the time it takes to grant visas to citizens of other Portuguese-speaking countries, including Angola and Brazil, according to reports.

The other countries in the Community of Portuguese language countries are East Timor, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe.

Immigrants from these countries have had to get a visa if they plan to stay in Portugal for more than 90 days, Reuters reported, and often have to wait many months to get visa approval.

Employers’ confederations have said there are no workers available in key sectors such as hotels, agriculture and construction.

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